Star Search: Do Elections Help Non‐Democratic Regimes Identify New Leaders?

Journal of East Asian Studies 13 (2013), 35–68

34 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2013

See all articles by Edmund J. Malesky

Edmund J. Malesky

Duke University, Political Science

Paul J. Schuler

University of Arizona

Date Written: December 21, 2012


A commonly proffered theory to explain the use of elections in authoritarian regimes is that they help identify talented young leaders who can be groomed for leadership positions. Unfortunately, due to the difficulties of obtaining data in authoritarian settings, this hypothesis has not been tested satisfactorily. We examine candidate-level data from the 2007 Vietnamese National Assembly (VNA) election and subsequent selection of candidates for top positions within the VNA and for top ministry positions. We find no evidence that vote share is associated with promotion to leadership positions in the VNA and only limited evidence for vote share association with ministerial posts. Instead, the results indicate that leadership selection takes place within the party rather than through elections. Furthermore, behavior within the assembly suggests that those who were chosen may have been selected based on their loyalty or at least pliancy to the party elites.

Keywords: Vietnam, elections, authoritarian, co-optation, National Assembly, talent selection, political development, electoral competitiveness, loyalty, party strength

Suggested Citation

Malesky, Edmund J. and Schuler, Paul J., Star Search: Do Elections Help Non‐Democratic Regimes Identify New Leaders? (December 21, 2012). Journal of East Asian Studies 13 (2013), 35–68. Available at SSRN:

Edmund J. Malesky (Contact Author)

Duke University, Political Science ( email )

140 Science Drive (Gross Hall), 2nd floor
Duke University Mailcode: 90204
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

Paul J. Schuler

University of Arizona ( email )

Department of History
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States

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